Imagine being a high school athlete entering your senior year with a dream of playing Division I football. Coaches have shown interest in you during your first three seasons, but no scholarship offers have materialized. All summer, you prepared for your last audition to earn a Division I scholarship, but a global pandemic postpones and potentially cancels that pivotal season.
That is the predicament Avory Iosefa Hart, the most recent SDSU football 2021 recruiting class signing, was facing as his senior year began at Chaparral High School in Temecula, CA, in Fall 2020.
The Fall High School football season in California had been canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and there was uncertainty whether it could be played later in the school year. While Hart was very frustrated with the postponement of the season delaying his recruiting opportunities and likely forcing him to explore the Junior College route, he understood he needed to stay patient with the process. “I took full advantage of the postponement of the season by training and going to camps,” Hart told East Village Times.
Once word started spreading that there would be an abbreviated High School Football season in the Spring, he ramped up his training to get ready for the season. Hart’s Chaparral Pumas are currently in the middle of their five-game schedule, with their final game scheduled for April 15. Hart plays defensive end for the Pumas.
SDSU had kept an eye out on Hart since last season but had yet to offer him a scholarship as they were interested in seeing him play in his senior season first. He recalls how excited he was when he first saw coach Jordan Thomas, the defensive line coach at SDSU, in his message requests on Twitter telling him that he had heard great things about him and liked what he saw on tape.
“I appreciate Coach Thomas very much because he has been an open book with me through my recruiting process and kept it 100% with me,” Hart mentioned. After watching him play in the first two games of the Spring season, SDSU offered Hart a scholarship on March 30.
Hart announced his commitment to SDSU on April 5 on Twitter, and SDSU Football’s Twitter account announced his official signing on April 6 as an addition to the 2021 defensive line class. Hart states that his decision came down to two schools: SDSU and USC. Why did he choose SDSU over a storied program in a Power 5 conference?
“I knew SDSU was going to be my school because I love the city of San Diego, my family and I live about an hour away from campus, and the Aztecs have been tracking my progress for 15 months and consistently stayed in contact. Throughout that time.”
Hart is listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 lbs on his hudl.com profile page. “The ultimate prototype” for a defensive end, according to Keith Miller, creator of Showcase Football and a long-time football scout and evaluator, who worked with Hart at his showcase football event this past year.
Miller said “(Hart) has a very humble and unassuming personality and the challenge for him is to take that naturally unassuming personality and be able to flip the switch and turn into that beast between the lines.” Miller believes Hart has the measurables, traits and the right culture around him to “put it all together like a pot of Louisiana gumbo and dominate the Mountain West Conference.”
In an era of High School athletics fueled by recruiting services, who rate and rank athletes on a five-star basis which unfortunately seems to become the only measurement the athletes, fans, and even schools care about, Hart proudly lists his status as a 0-star recruit on his Twitter bio. Services like Rivals and 247sports ignored him, not even bothering to create a page for him.
“I want present and future student-athletes that don’t get the luxury of experiencing the same opportunity as me to know that stars don’t mean anything,” Hart said. “You don’t need stars to play Division I football. Having stars is just a label, not a fact. I’m a zero-star athlete and know that I can compete with the best of them, and that’s what I’m putting my focus towards heading into SDSU.”
Hart is a two-sport athlete, who also plays volleyball, is into fashion, and calls himself a “sneakerhead.” Thanks to the coaches and officials in Temecula Valley Unified School District, who worked to salvage a Spring football season, Hart had the opportunity to play this season and show he was worthy of a Division I Scholarship. In a few months, Hart will be taking his sneaker collection down the 15 Freeway to Montezuma Mesa, where he will start what looks to be a very promising career as an Aztec.